‘The Big Book of Pies And Tarts’
By Betty Crocker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)
Quick look: If you love pies and tarts – sweet and savory, large and small – Betty Crocker’s “Big Book of Pies and Tarts” offers all kinds of ideas, tips and combinations – from basic pie pastry and decorative crust ideas to holiday specialties, cream and chilled pies, and mini creations.
What’s inside: There are recipes for classics like Classic Apple Pie, Classic French Silk Pie and traditional blueberry, cherry, peach, pecan and pumpkin pies. And then there are the twists, creative combinations of flavors such as Pear Caramel-Apple Praline Pie, Mango-Pineapple Pie with Macadamia Lattice Crust and Chai Cream Pie. There are pies for dinner – Roasted Vegetable-Goat Cheese Crostata, Potato-Onion Bacon Slab Pie, Individual Chicken Pot Pies – and for breakfast – Quiche Lorraine, Leek Quiche, Canadian Bacon, Asparagus and Potato Quiche. There are also recipes for turnovers, tartlets, pie pops, cookie-stuffed pies, pie cupcakes, hand pies, squares, empanadas, even fruit pizza. The introduction includes tips for freezing and storing pies and tarts, perfecting crusts, fluting edges, and making Graham cracker and cookie-crumb crusts. Many recipes also include “Sweet Success Tips” and serving suggestions. Bakers who enjoy photographs of finished products won’t be disappointed with the colorful and appetizing pictures of prepared pies and tarts. However, only about half of the recipes have them.
What’s not: Most recipes aren’t for bakers who are short on time. While a few take as little as 25 minutes, most recipes are in the two- to three-hour range, with some taking much longer.
I used all butter for my crusts, and on my second batch added an extra 1/3 cup, which made the crust even more flavorful and flaky.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold shortening
3 to 5 tablespoons ice-cold water
For a butter crust, substitute cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, for half of the shortening.
In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Sprinkle with the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Divide pastry in half and shape into 2 rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened rounds in plastic wrap; refrigerate 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This makes the shortening slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.
Using floured rolling pin, roll 1 round of pastry on lightly floured surface (or pastry board with floured pastry cloth) into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths and place into pie plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.
Spoon desired filling into bottom crust. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of pie plate.
Roll second round out. Place over filling. Cut slits in pastry so steam can escape.
Trim overhanging edge of top pastry 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold edge of top crust under bottom crust, pressing on rim to seal; flute edges. Bake as directed in desired pie recipe.
Double-Berry Mini Wedding Pies
These mini pies made for a sweet, bite-size dessert. The recipe called for regular muffin tins. I used mini-muffin tins and found I needed to grease the cups to help get the mini pies out of the tin more easily. Other berries can be substituted. I tried a raspberry and blueberry mixture as well as plain raspberry.
2 recipes Two-Crust Pastry or 2 boxes refrigerated, pre-made pie crusts softened as directed.
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 to 2 tablespoons coarse sugar or sanding sugar
3 cups fresh raspberries
3 cups fresh blackberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Heat oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll 1 pastry round or pie crust at a time to 13-inch round. From each pastry, cut 6 (4-inch) rounds. From scraps, cut a total of 24 (1 ½-inch) hearts and 24 (1-inch) hearts.
Press pastry rounds in bottoms and up sides of 24 ungreased regular-size muffin cups, leaving top edge slightly ruffled (dough should come slightly over top of cup); set aside until ready to fill. Place hearts on ungreased cookie sheets. Brush with 1 tablespoon whipping cream; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, place raspberries and blackberries. In 1 ½-quart saucepan, stir granulated sugar, cornstarch and cold water with whisk. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just comes to a boil. Pour over berries; mix well. Immediately spoon berry mixture into crust-lined muffin cups. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If fruit bubbled up onto pan, run knife around edge of cup. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely. Just before serving, place 1 large heart and 1 small heart onto each mini pie.